Tax season is right around the corner and several military families will attempt to file their taxes on paper. However filing taxes on paper is a long and cumbersome process. If an individual taxpayer chooses to file without the help of a certified public accountant (CPA), the process can take hours. And, if mistakes are made the repercussions can take the form of fines or an audit.
In fact, nearly 50 percent of taxpayers will be audited in their lifetime because of errors or omissions, according to a guide titled, "Surviving an IRS Tax Audit."
E-filing is the latest and most popular way to file taxes. Filing online not only reduces the errors made during this process, but also cuts down on the amount of time it takes to file. What's more, most e-file websites provide tax experts, communication specialists and economists to help e-filers through the process.
There is no obligation to buy these products or services for preparing and e-filing a federal income tax return. As long as the taxpayer meets the company's free offer criteria, it's acceptable to simply prepare and e-file your federal return for free.
Taxpayers may exceed eligibility criteria after selecting a company
Taxpayers may determine that after they start preparing a tax return with a particular company they are not eligible for the company's free service and may be subject to a fee
If this notification occurs taxpayers have the following options:
- Return back to the IRS' Free File homepage and review the list of companies and their services and select another company you may qualify for;
- Choose a company to complete the tax return but take note of the fee displayed on the company's website; or
- Visit the IRS e-file Partners for Individual Taxpayers web page to view additional low-cost e-file opportunities.
For example, if taxpayers select a company whose free services are provided to individuals with an AGI of $26,000 or less and, based on the tax data, the company determines the AGI exceeds the $26,000 limit, taxpayers will be notified that they may be subject to a fee. It is important to understand each of the company's eligibility criteria before selecting a company.
Tax information and data will be protected -- Privacy and Security concerns
- Tax return preparation is accomplished using proprietary software approved by the IRS; transmittal is through the established IRS e-file system.
- Each company must attain a third party privacy and security certification.
- Alliance companies must comply with all federal rules and regulations on taxpayer privacy for paying and free customers. These rules prohibit use of tax return data for purposes not specifically authorized by the taxpayer.
The IRS monitors the progress of each of the companies. If any problems develop, the companies are required to alert the IRS. If appropriate, the IRS will remove the company from the IRS.gov site until the problem is resolved.
All e-filing servies require a little research. But filing taxes online can save military families time and money, maybe a little sanity too.